This week’s Featured Fundraiser is Rochelle Zeidman.Thank you Katherine Wertheim for referring her to me.
If you ever would like to nominate someone for Feature Fundraiser just send me an email. - Jason
What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?
Strategy, campaign, foundation, corporate, individual major and principal gifts, and board fundraising are the kinds of fundraising I do for local, national, and global non-profits. Also develop fundraising products.
What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?
Development is a means to an end. I work in development because ultimately services depend on organizations acquiring resources. Development professionals keep the lights on in theatres, ensure food reaches those in needs, advance education for youth, help achieve solutions to pressing global health issues, and tackle so much more.
Conceptualizing and designing sustaining solutions keep me going.
What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?
- Ours is a rapidly changing profession — stay tuned in to change so you will be an effective leader.
- Have a plan a, b and c for your organization and monitor closely.
- Your success is interdependent. Be active in your organization’s plans and actively network.
- Create opportunities for growth within your own organization.
What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?
A challenge about fund development is how other factors may affect results. That’s why it’s wise to take a broad view, look at trends, etc. Also your organization’s financials, visibility, reputation, relevance, social marketing, quality of programs, customer service, and technology can affect your fundraising.
Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations that you’d like to share?
My first week on a new job, our top donor passed away, and this gift was not endowed, which was a huge problem. I immediately created a challenge to five donors who were one level below to increase their gifts, which they did. In fact, several stayed at the new level. Long-term solution is to endow annual gifts to avoid this situation.
What is a funny story you’d like to share about a solicitation?
Funny story was a visit with president of my institution to a wealthy prospect who graciously offered us a beverage to quench our thirst — glasses of 150-year old scotch. I was eager to try this beverage but felt a quick small kick and urgent look from my president…and we politely refused. You guess: did we ultimately receive a gift?
- Featured Fundraiser: Dan Smith
- Janice Chan: Featured Fundraiser
- Sylvia Allen: Featured Fundraiser
- Economic Troubles: Featured Fundraiser Tom McLagan
- Cass Wheeler: Featured Fundraiser
I read each reply and started to wonder, do I really want to pursue a career in a place where these types of heated discussions are the norm rather than the exception? Where at certain times egos and credentials are more important that compassion and context? Then I thought to myself, who am I kidding? My ego is what got me here in the first place. I decided to pursue my PhD so I could stand on my soap box and share my expertise with the nonprofit world! So my impassioned pleas about nonprofit operations, technology, education etc would be heard!
After I enrolled in the program I quickly learned its not about the soap box, its about the collective knowledge that's in the room. Its about finding that balance where the information gets across but differing opinions are being heard. This is where teaching becomes an art, an interpersonal dance of when to speak up and when to shut up. Before I began this PhD journey, would react if things didn't go my way or if I disagreed with my boss or co-worker. Now I recognize its not just about the work, its about the interpersonal skills behind it. I now make the effort to pause and reflect in the moment and wonder, should I react in the moment? What will be the consequences? I can still get my point across and be heard without getting offended or upset in the process.
If you're reading this and interpersonal skills come easily to you, that's awesome! But for those of us that are task oriented or methodical, stopping to reflect is challenging! I've learned that developing interpersonal skills is a life long journey for me and I'm still an infant in that regard. Someone recently asked me what I was planning to do after my PhD and I responded by saying "Try to pursue a tenure track nonprofit faculty position or try to work for a nonprofit infrastructure organization like the Independent Sector." This person was surprised by my response and said, "I don't know why you are pursuing your PhD if you are not going to go into academia." I responded and explained that whatever decision I make I know one thing is for sure, that my PhD has been one of the best decisions of my life. I've developed my teaching skills (off the soap box), I've learned how to do methodologically sound research, and most of all I've developed my interpersonal skills.
So whether I end up in academia, the nonprofit sector, or both, my PhD has given me the interpersonal skills to handle anything and anyone as blazing as they might be.
A couple months ago, I wrote a post, Want to Versus Need to Hear. I had some great follow-up comments from that post, but I didn’t really give any practical advice about how to cope with receiving unwanted but needed advice.
When I was heartbroken over some difficult issue at school, my father always had the same advice for me. My Dad would tell me, “no matter how bad it gets, it won’t feel as bad in the morning.” I’ve found that advice to be mostly true. Whenever I’m discouraged or frustrated, giving it a night’s rest has almost always worked in taming my emotions and giving me a better perspective. Wait to draw your final conclusions on your frustrating situation until the next day.
We all need to have confidence that we are doing a good job in some areas of our lives and of our work. What is it about your job that you know you can do well, an area you have received recognition? Remembering those moments can be helpful in getting through those experiences of weakness. Take a minute to think about the difference you have made as a member of your profession. Talk with a client you’ve gotten to know well and hear their story again.
When I first started fundraising, I was always disappointed at how few names were on my prospect lists. It seemed that the majority of names I sent a letter or made phone calls to were the same names over and over again, and I consistently received a rather low response rate. So, I started looking in new places outside of just lapsed donors and donors from last year’s drive.
- Your local Book of Lists. Every community has those businesses that have become the popular ones to ask for money. Because these businesses get so much charitable attention, they can be the most difficult from which to receive funding.
- Local Chambers of Commerce. Businesses that participate in their chamber of commerce are often philanthropically minded but may not receive as many requests as the larger businesses in your community.
- Ask your board members to recommend names. I encourage you to sit down individually with your board members and ask them to add a few names to your prospect list.
- LinkedIn. One of my favorite places to go to find names and businesses is LinkedIn. Use the search function to find people or businesses in specific geographical regions or industry businesses. Check out the LinkedIn profiles of your board members and major donors to see who they already are connected to who might be good prospects.
- Fund Drives with Businesses
- Business Giving vs Individual Giving
- Embedded Philanthropy: A New Age of Giving
- Prospecting New and Existing Donors
- Whom Do You Serve: Donor or Organization?